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by John Hare

One thing that I notice isn't mentioned much are mercenaries. The RC mentions them and how much they cost but very little mention is made other wise. What I would like to do is build up some of the more famous/infamous mercenary forces in the KW.

And for some examples:

The Dragon's Claw

This primarily dwarven force comes out of Rockhome. They specialise in siege warfare and have several engineers and artillerists among their ranks. The get their name from their standard, which is actually a red dragon's claw. The original core group was hired to protect a village against a dragon. After taking heavy losses they finally killed the dragon. A couple of members mentioned that it was all for a dragon's claw, which they kept as a memento. Eventually they were recognised more often because of the claw and had it become their official standard. There have been rumours that the claw is now enchanted, but that is unconfirmed.

Famous members

Captain Darthon 'the Hilt' Ironguard, an 11th lvl dwarf who was one of the original members. He claims the honour of actually killing the dragon by ramming his sword into the beast up to the hilt, which is where he gets his nickname.

Hobart Steelthrow, another member of the original force Hobart acts as the force physician and doctor being skilled in the healing arts. Unknown to most members he is actually a dwarven cleric of 9th lvl. So when a wounded person comes in their are given a knock out shot before he performs any healing.

Lithil 'Sneak' Warmrock, is a more recent member of the group. Intrigued by the idea of military life this halfling serves as a scout for the force, ensuring that they don't run into any ambushes or other traps.

The Dragon's Claw has been in existence for about 50 or so years now. It is normally based out of Rockhome and recruits most of its new members from that country. One of the most notable things about this company is that it has never been routed from the field of battle. It has retreated, but never routed. Part of this is due to the magical properties of their standard. The claw came from an ancient red wyrm called Kristopholex (Chris-tof-olex) the Dwarf-Crusher. Enchanted by Darthon and Hobart it can radiate an aura of courage, similar to the idea of dragonfear, but moulded by the enchantments to help hold the company together. This was done in concern that dwarves don't run very well and that by sticking together the company's chance of survival is increased. Every member of the company is given a carved scale of the wyrm Kristopholex which has a connection to the standard. So long as the standard is in the hands of a member of the company any result of Rout on the War Machine table is ignored (casualties are still taken however). In combat this gives all members who are within150' of the standard and have a scale are treated as if affected by a bless spell, and are given a re-roll on any saves vs fear spells. Just a note that captured scales do not work for non-members of the company. This is because a small ceremony accepting the member into the company and presenting them with the scale involves touching the new member with the standard.

The company members are normally equipped with chain mail, heavy crossbows, 3 silver bolts, and either hand axe and shield or a battle axe. They also have equipment to assemble siege engines, primarily ballista and lt. catapults. The company has several wagons which carry extra supplies and tools for laying sieges. The silver bolts became a standard requirement after they got attacked by were-creatures.

The Grey Skins

This group came out of Thyatis City about 10 years ago. They specialise in tunnel warfare, having had much experience in the sewers under Thyatis. They get their name from the grey cloaks they wear that are made from the skins of dead rats. It isn't a large group by any means, mostly under 100 troops at any given time. However they have a very high success rate at cleaning out vermin from tunnels.

The truth behind the Grey Skins is that all the members are either greater or lesser wererats! They left Thyatis because they lost a power struggle with the current head rat under the city. They do clean out any sewer infestation, and force any wererats to join their ranks. It is believed that they plan to return to Thyatis and take their rightful places in the sewers, as soon as they have gained enough followers. This group will not accept any jobs from demi-humans, mainly because of the threat of discover is higher if a demi-human is infected they die.